Much of the happiness and unhappiness you will experience in mortality will be related to a powerful emotion—love. In the scripture quoted above, the Lord tells us that love is to characterize our relationships with each other. In the New Testament, we are even told “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It is my belief that He wants all of us to experience love in its deepest and fullest sense. On the other hand, Satan seeks to prostitute and distort love—making of it something tawdry and destructive. Many young people have been deceived by the counterfeit descriptions of love that are evident all around us. Perhaps you have known people who one day announce they are “in love” and the next that they have “fallen out of love.” You must be extremely careful also not to think of love as it is portrayed in the majority of TV sitcoms, movies, and romance novels. It has been said that there is a difference between Hollywood’s “reel love” and “real love.”
Nephi warned us that in the last days even some of the humble followers of Christ would “err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2 Nephi 28:14). You must, therefore, be careful in your high school, college, and university classes. If you are not, you might be persuaded to buy into the false philosophies of the world about love.
Reflecting on Satan’s great power to deceive, President Benson has said, “We must be aware.”1 The way to avoid deception is to get the facts. The truths about love are found in the standard works and the teachings of our latter-day prophets and apostles. This section will focus on what these truths are relating to love.
A myth is an unfounded or false notion about something. Given the powerful emotions that are involved, it is little wonder that a great many misconceptions and erroneous beliefs about love have found their way into our culture. Researchers have found that unrealistic expectations, false beliefs, and myths about love and marriage contribute greatly to “creating disappointment and dissatisfaction in marriage.”2 What this means to you is that believing these myths about love could negatively affect your future happiness. Jesus said that if we know the truth, the truth will make us free (see John 8:32). Free to what?
Free to make correct choices.
Free to see things as they really are.
Free to avoid mistakes that could rob us of happiness.
Here are ten myths about love that are widely accepted in our world. Many of them are half-truths. Acceptance of any one of them could affect your future happiness in marriage:
1. Fiction: True love is love at first sight.
Fact: There is such a thing as attraction at first sight, but that is usually based mainly on physical appearance. Some people have known or felt they would marry a person after they first meet, but that is not necessarily love. Love involves commitment, respect, and trust, attributes of a relationship that develop over time. An initial attraction could be the beginning of love, but it takes time for love to grow and mature.
2. Fiction: When you can’t think of anything but the person in whom you are interested, that means you are in love.
Fact: This is only partially true. Such a preoccupation may be the beginning of a loving relationship but is more likely to be characteristic of infatuation, a shallower emotion. As love matures, we learn to control our feelings.
3. Fiction: Engaging in physical intimacy before marriage enhances a relationship and fosters love.
Fact: Physical involvement before marriage puts stress on a relationship and makes it difficult to assess your true feelings. Couples who refrain from becoming physically intimate until after marriage and who keep the covenants they made at baptism have a greater chance of developing a deep friendship and an eternal love. Friendship is the key to a happy, enduring marriage. Engaging in premarital sex can fool people into thinking they are in love when they are really only lusting after each other.
4. Fiction: Being somewhat dishonest with each other safeguards love.
Fact: True love and friendship are based on honesty. “Playing games” with each other’s emotions, hiding true feelings, or disguising our real self are immature ways to behave and do not contribute to a lasting relationship. Honesty builds trust, which is essential in a truly loving relationship.
5. Fiction: If my partner really loved me, he or she would intuitively know what I want and need.
Fact: Love does not give us the ability to read each other’s minds. An honest and mature relationship depends on both parties honestly communicating their feelings, wants, and needs.
6. Fiction: The strict moral guidelines that are part of the gospel stifle a relationship and are an impediment to true love.
Fact: Satan would have you believe that the commandments have nothing to do with true love. That is absolutely false! The commandments to be chaste, to be honest, and to keep our covenants are the guardrails that protect us from making mistakes that destroy true love.
7. Fiction: Being in love is a purely emotional rather than a rational experience.
Fact: This is only half true. Though being in love can be a highly emotional experience, lasting love also involves an intellectual and spiritual commitment. Too many people blindly follow their feelings when they should also be using their heads.
8. Fiction: A kiss is an indication of caring and possibly of love.
Fact: This can be true but may not always be so. Many people kiss simply because it is fun, physically stimulating, or the expected thing to do. It may have nothing to do with love or even caring about the person.
9. Fiction: Just because you date a nonmember of the Church doesn’t mean you will marry one.
Fact: This is a half-truth. Some people date nonmembers and don’t marry outside the Church. But we fall in love with and marry those we date and “hang around with.” The chances of a nonmember joining the Church after marriage are statistically very low.
10. Fiction: When you are really in love, the intensity of the feeling is always high.
Fact: Contrary to what is portrayed in the media, the intensity of loving feelings ebbs and flows, depending on a number of factors such as health, stress, and mood. The feeling of euphoria that is often involved is not constant. Some days we may not feel as “in love” as we do at other times. Love is a dynamic, growing, changing experience, and to keep it growing we must constantly work at it. Love, like a flower, needs nourishment.
Lead image from Pixabay
“But how do I know if I am really in love?”
During more than 30 years of teaching and counseling young people, Robert McIntosh has heard that question more than any other. Here he draws upon the scriptures, the writings of latter-day prophets and hundreds of interviews to answer such questions as:
How can I tell when I've met the right person to marry?
What is the difference between romantic love and friendship?
Why is premarital sexual intimacy so damaging to a relationship?
How Do You Know When You're Really In Love? will help you find your way through the sometimes frustrating minefield of relationships and guide you safely to the kind of marriage you want for eternity.